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Joseph Bracken Lee

Gov. Joseph Bracken Lee

  • January 3, 1949 - January 7, 1957
  • Republican
  • January 7, 1899
  • October 20, 1996
  • Utah
  • Married twice--Nellie Amelia Pace, Margaret Ethel Draper; one child by his first wife and three children by his second wife
  • Army


JOSEPH BRACKEN LEE was born in Price, Utah. After graduating from Carbon County High School, he joined the U.S. Army, serving as a sergeant during World War I. He then went into the real estate and insurance businesses. He was mayor of Price, Utah for six two-year terms, during which time he also campaigned unsuccessfully for Congress and for the governorship. However, he won the races for governor in 1948 and 1952. As governor, Lee became well known for his opposition to a federal income tax. In addition, during his administration, Utah’s highway construction program expanded in part by means of increased motor fuel taxes, while individual income taxes were lowered. In 1957 Lee was appointed National Chairman of “For America,” a group established to oppose super-internationalism and seek a return to “constitutional government.” He made another unsuccessful campaign for a U.S. Senate seat in 1958. In 1959 he purchased the Republican weekly newspaper Utah Statesman and renamed it American Statesman. He was the Conservative candidate for president in 1960 and became mayor of Salt Lake City that same year, serving until his retirement in 1971.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

Utah History Research Center

Utah History to Go

Utah History Encyclopedia

Lythgoe, Dennis L. Let ‘em Holler: A Political Biography of J. Bracken Lee. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1982.

“J. Bracken Lee, Colorful Utah Maverick, Dies,” Deseret News, October 21, 1996, p. A1;  “Former Governor Lee Dies; Lee, Ex-Governor, Dies at 97,” Salt Lake Tribune, October 21, 1996, p. A1; “Governor J. Bracken Lee,” Deseret News, October 23, 1996, p. B4; “Governor J. Bracken Lee,” Salt Lake Tribune, October 23, 1996, p. D5.

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